Last week I met with Rebecca Jackson from BillMonitor. BillMonitor has been launched to address the key issue faced by all mobile users; which is the best tariff for me? There are already a number of price comparison tools on the web available from the usual price comparison websites; so what makes BillMonitor different? The team behind BillMonitor include statistics professors from Oxford University so it’s leveraging the combined intellect of some very smart people! This team has used mathematics to develop an algorithm that uses behavioural forecasts to predict future usage. BillMonitor analyses over 47,000 mobile tariff variants to make recommendations based on the data entered by a user. These recommendations involve the algorithm taking pragmatic decisions about predicted usage to arrive at suggestions that should offer good value for the next six months. BillMonitor takes the view that certainty is key for mobile users and therefore it is preferable to pay a little more each month to ensure you don’t get seriously stung when you occasionally exceed your bundle, rather than identify a tariff that may on some occasions be inadequate. The results can be enhanced by the bill tracking feature that looks at your actual mobile usage via your online account. Searching can be improved by selecting specific variables like contract length, operator and roaming. When I first looked at BillMonitor I expected it to be more relevant to Normobs but having seen the power behind it, I think it’s got something to offer all mobile users.
At the moment only the big operators are included in the tariff analysis but the virtual operators like Virgin, Tesco and Lebara will be included in a couple of months. BillMonitor will also shortly be launching a business version for the SME market which will include multi handset business tariffs. I was keen to try out the monthly bill tracking feature but at the moment it only covers Vodafone, Orange and O2. I’m on 3 so I’ll have to wait for an update to the site. However I did a quick calculation of what I need, based on the last half a dozen bills, fed it into the tariff analyser, and discovered I’d be better switching to O2 on a 30 day contract if I don’t need a bundled handset. If I want a handset then 3 is still the best network for me.
BillMonitor is free of charge to consumers and will remain so. Monetising the service is likely to come from managing the more sophisticated requirements of business users, on top of the existing referral fees when a user clicks through and makes a purchase from an operator. Referral fees in no way influence the results and BillMonitor is currently undergoing the Ofcom price comparison certification process which guarantees impartiality.
Jonathan’s also at Sevendotzero.